Building up Biola

The completion of the parking garage and Talbot East building will allow more space for the quickly expanding Biola population.


The new parking structure is anticipated to be complete on October 1, 2011. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES

Patricia Diaz, Writer

Dust has yet to settle around Biola’s campus, as construction projects continue in an attempt to keep pace with an ever-expanding student population. Major undertakings including the new parking structure and the Talbot building are nearing completion, while campus boasts a variety of other renovations made over the summer.

Garage opening later than planned

Parking continues to be the hot topic on campus, but relief is on the horizon in the form of a four-story, 780-space parking structure taking shape next to the soccer field. The $8.7 million concrete and steel structure has fallen a month behind schedule thanks to permit and inspection delays from Los Angeles County, and was not finished in time for the first day of classes as planned. The structure also suffered a minor collapse during a concrete pour on May 25 due to metal fatigue of one bolt on the adjustable shoring support system. Biola’s contractor, HBParkco, quickly took steps to replace all the bolts on the job with a stronger alloy metal, and construction has continued uneventfully.

“Right now we’re still on target for a September 27 opening,” confirmed senior director of facilities planning Ken Bascom.

More students than ever have pre-registered for parking permits this year in anticipation of the new structure, according to Campus Safety information officer Justin Shelby.

“It’ll be like night and day,” Shelby predicted regarding the parking situation on campus.

But Bascom warned that several hundred spaces are likely to be empty in the structure, as some students still opt for street parking over buying the $120 permit.

Parking is the primary strain on the relationship between Biola and the City of La Mirada.

“The biggest negative impact we have on neighbors is parking,” Bascom said, noting that many residents around the school have successfully petitioned for their streets to become parking by permit only.

The new structure should help lift some of that tension, and prove to the city that the school can handle the growing number of students enrolling, according to Bascom.

Talbot East to be certified as energy-efficient

On the other side of campus, the first phase of the $55.4 million Talbot School of Theology complex is nearing completion. What began as a massive hole in the ground next to Calvary Chapel, has now grown rapidly vertical, taking on the shape of an impressive building. Talbot East will add eight new classrooms, as well as much-needed faculty office space. After delays last spring that set the project back two to four months, the building is scheduled to be completed in the first week of October, with a dedication ceremony planned on Oct. 14. Thanks to competitive bidding by contractors, the building of this first phase is anticipated to come in at almost $3 million under the original $21.4 million estimate, according to Bascom.

The new Talbot building will also be the first of Biola’s construction projects to be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, indicating that it meets requirements for environmentally sustainable construction.

“It should be the most energy-efficient building on the campus,” Bascom said, noting that every part of the project is measured and monitored from lighting and heating systems to the way construction waste is handled.

Faculty and population growth prompts expansion

Other campus renovations have been prompted by the addition of 20 new faculty positions this semester. Parts of Sutherland Hall, Marshburn Hall, and Bardwell have been remodeled to add more office spaces, and a missions resource room was installed in Marshburn after receiving funding in the fall of 2009.

Biola has also taken a 10-year lease on 20,000 square feet of space from the nearby Rancho Elementary School, where they will move some administrative functions, donor relations teams, and the Biola Youth program. Bascom said the school hopes to someday own the property, which is about half the size of McNally.

The demands of the student population continue to put a strain on key areas of campus life. Bascom noted a record number of triples on campus this semester, and the new facilities plan revision which will be public in March 2012, will propose locations for new campus residence halls. The school is also actively seeking to buy more apartments along Rosecrans Avenue. And with Caf lines growing longer, dining hall capacity will also need to be considered.

But despite these, the next construction priorities will likely be frontline academic facilities, Bascom said, including a science and fine arts campus where McNally is and Talbot West, which will replace the current Myers Hall. Biola’s board of trustees will be approving the next construction projects in January.

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